I don’t know about you, but my life has certainly not turned out as I expected in my younger years. That is not to say it has been less than I expected, just different. In fact, as I reflect back on what I would have considered a happy, successful, “flourishing” life three or four decades ago, my life is now almost in another dimension than the one I was holding up as the standard and measure of achievement and happiness at that youthful point of my outlook on my life’s future journey.
A few weeks ago I shared with a group I am part of that for the better part of the last 25 years I have lived, loved, worked and traversed life on this little acre of ours we call home. Now, if someone had told me 25+ years ago that would be the case, I would have thought that to be the dullest, most depressing, least fruitful and disastrously unsuccessful existence possible. I would have dreaded the very next day – much less the next quarter century!
And at times, some days have seemed just that – dull and unproductive – less “bountiful” than I would have ever dreamed or expected.
Yet, here is what time, maturity (aka “aging”), challenges and difficulties, hopefully acquisition of a bit of wisdom, readjustment of my measuring stick and definition of “success”, prayer, reflection, observation, conversation, living life with daily (many if not most days that is) bible study, and the benefit of gaining a better understanding of what is really important in my life and the life of my family have helped me begin to comprehend: I have had the absolutely most successful, bountiful, fruitful and flourishing life that God Himself ordained for me. Certainly not in the ways I would have expected, but the ways that were best for me! And that is not to say I don’t have oh, so much more “adjusting” and work to do and so much more to learn – but my outlook is different, my measuring stick more eternal and my definition of success a little less about power, fame, money, stature and “fun”.
It’s more about people than places; more about influencing than being influential; more about serving than earning; more about listening than speaking; more about what’s best for others than having my own way. Don’t worry, I’m not assuming or touting that I’ve “arrived,” just that after all of these years I know how I can better, and more abundantly, journey on!
Here’s what I know – over the years I’ve had the blessing and opportunity to have dozens of young women in my home and around my table – and those awesome young women are now heading out and away from this little acre to teach, lead, mentor, help, serve, minister, parent, flourish and bloom in ways and in places I could never dream – and certainly never reach. They are my bounty; they are my success; they are my joy.
I’ve had the time and ability, out of necessity, to assist my husband in his business endeavors – not by being in the forefront or the limelight, but by being his helpmeet. I’ve done what I could to allow him the time and energy and opportunity necessary to provide for our family. Yes, at times that has been a struggle for me because I have wanted to be the one acknowledged for what we were doing together. Interesting how, while not gone altogether, that desire for acknowledgment has lessened as my eyes have been opened to the blessings and privileges that being the “woman behind the man” has allowed. It has allotted me the time and liberty to pursue other things that being in the foreground would have deterred or made impossible. Things like gardening, and cooking, writing and “pondering,” mentoring and mothering – – – having the time to, in fact, have all of those amazing young women in our home.
I’ve gotten to spend sweet, swiftly fleeting, time with our girls – time that will never pass this way again; time that no amounts of money and success could purchase. This unexpected life has allowed me fruitful, flourishing, bountiful time with them that I wouldn’t trade for anything else in this world.
Perspective is, indeed, everything! If I had not gone through the (sometimes painful – and still continuing) metamorphosis of readjusting my life’s measuring stick of success and fulfillment, I would most likely be discontent, feeling like a failure, looking for joy anywhere but here on my little acre, and always comparing all I have and all I am to everyone else around me.
Yet, this I know – God is ever-faithful! He is continually readjusting me, as needed, to better participate in the plan He has for my very own life. Think about that – it’s my life, yet His plan and purpose for my life. Shouldn’t I trust Him to do the measuring and adjusting? – – – Yet I continue to, at times, squirm and shirk like I’m the one better somehow at doing it.
This life of mine has not played out as I expected, yet the deepest desires of my heart have been graciously met – – – though I’m sure I really don’t even understand and comprehend what that really actually means as I’m still navigating life day by day. Yet, in just a few short weeks, maybe days, I will get the most delightful gift of a new little grandson – the one who has been designated in my heart and mind as our “sweet little baby boy.” And, if it is ordained, I will have the joyful blessing and privilege of watching him grow and flourish and “succeed.” The beautiful bounty will be, not in his accomplishments, but in his mere existence. And I can’t wait to teach him a thing or two on this little acre and expose him to the precious treasures of life and love and belonging.
When our oldest daughter was born (sweet little baby boy’s mother), a client of mine gave me a plant. I explained its original 25-year journey in a Facebook post of a couple of years ago. (See below). On that August morning I was serendipitously surprised to see that tiny, new little leaf emerging from what I thought was a failed attempt at keeping that plant alive. My desire was to be able to pass it along to my daughter when she had her first child.
Well, not only did that little leaf serendipitously emerge that morning, but beautiful, bountiful leaves continued to develop, appear and grow. They, in fact, flourished and cascaded over the edge of the pot.
But here’s more – I have taken cuttings of that plant and have put them in water to root in order to create an entirely new pot to celebrate the birth of “sweet little baby boy” when the time arrives. Those cuttings have rooted and grown and are ready to be placed in their soil to represent new life and new beginnings. I didn’t expect that little leaf a couple of years ago – but as you may now be seeing – there is much of life that I haven’t expected.
My prayer for that little boy will be that life won’t turn out as he may expect. I’ll expectantly ask that God will faithfully adjust and readjust him to be prepared to see and receive the plans and purposes God has ordained in him and for him – and that his little life will be fruitful and bountiful, flourishing and joyful – not as I would expect, or his parents will expect, but as God Himself wills and knows. His is the bounty that supersedes all else – even our own measly, little “grandiose” expectations.
Thought to Ponder: How are you allowing God to readjust your measure of success, plenty, happiness and contentment in your life? Has your perspective changed as you’ve grown in wisdom and knowledge? Are you willing to realign your quantitative ideas to those of a more eternal and lasting (if not popular) measure?